Viewing entries tagged
health

Back to school part 2: Are your kid's bodies ready to perform?

If you have ever looked at your child’s schedule and thought; “how do they manage that?” then this post is for you.

It’s weird. It feels like kids are exactly as lazy as they have always been, yet at the same time, busier than ever.

What I mean by that sentence is that it feels like kids of all ages are expected to participate in a lot more than has ever been expected of them in the past, yet at the same time, as people they are no different than we all were when we were their age.

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Their time commitments may be larger than children even as little as 15 years ago, but their desire to not have to take out the rubbish, spend as much time in front of a screen as they can and at a certain age, exhibit inexplicably rude attitudes towards their parents is exactly as strong as ours was at the time.

I joke of course…when we were sarcastic and rude, we all had good reasons I’m sure.

Children are often expected to participate in at LEAST one (in my experience usually two or more) extra curricular activity, taking up multiple evenings throughout the week, then perform their chosen sports/activities on the weekend, as well as fitting in other commitments.

Yeah Kieran we get it, we are the ones who have to drive them around, what’s the point?

Thats a good question. The point is, if you think about how much is physically required of school aged children as well as mentally, the concept of performance becomes really important.

‘Performance’ doesn’t only applies to athletes.

Martin and myself have spoken to many work places about the concept of what we call Corporate Athletes. Let’s face it, if you are spending the time reading this blog, you likely already know hat I am talking about.

The term applies to anyone who, although they have a demanding schedule within their occupation (be it corporate or otherwise), as well as family and social commitments, they still demand and expect a lot from their body physically.

People are getting up earlier, finishing later and have less down time than ever, and on top of all this, we plan to exercise, play sport or even just actively participate in life and so we are forced to make choices that will support our body to keep up.

A lot of adults that we see don’t choose care because they are injured, in fact most of our clients see us to REACH and STAY at their peak performance, whatever that looks like to them.

The point, as you so rightly asked for earlier?

As adults we recognise that niggles and aches can be warning signs that we are not fully on top of things, yet we quite often think that because our children haven't had the time to build up issues and don’t have to live as busy a life as we do, that they should be able to push through.

With all due respect, I disagree.

I am not for one second think that I have EVER met a parent who doesn’t care more about their children’s heath than their own. Thats ridiculous.

I DO think that the traditional way that Australian society views personal performance, maintenance of health and injury prevention needs a re-think, especially when it comes to kids.

Think about your average week.

I don’t know who you are but I am willing to bet it contains varying amounts of the following:

  • More screen time than you would like,

  • less sleep than you know is ideal,

  • stress (from anywhere, be it work, friends, deadlines etc)

  • trying to exercise an appropriate amount,

  • attempting to make the best choices for food as you can,

  • socialising,

  • commuting and if you’re lucky,

  • some down time.

When you look at this list, does it vary that much from a child's week from late primary school onwards?

I don’t think that your kids have it harder than you do, but if you had to do all the same things that they are required to do in a regular school week, do you think your body would feel better, worse or the same as what it does now?

When you think about the recurring ‘niggles’ your body has built up over the span of your life time, if you could go back in time and stop yourself developing the habits that lead you to developing them, things like your posture, the way you run, the lack of rehab on that rolled ankle from basketball, when in your life would you go back to in order to make the biggest change to where you are now?

I am not a betting man, but I am prepared to wager that you’re thinking that when you were at school would have been the best time to get on top of those problems.

The reason we didn’t do anything about our issues then, is because children can’t feel issues they way we do as adults.

Younger people are actually not wired to feel the types of pain that you and I are as adults.

Ever wonder why an 18 and a 28 year old footballer can have the same injury on the same week, and the 28 year old might miss 2-3 games while the 18 year old seems to be back the next week?

It isn’t because they are stronger, it is because their nervous system hasn’t fully developed enough to tell them they are injured and need to take it easy.

Neurologically, we are adolescents until our early 20’s. The last section of our nervous system doesn’t fully form until we are around 24 years of age and I am sorry to inform you…that last section is dedicated to a type of pain that young people just can’t feel.

They can have the same injury, and the same amount of healing needs to take place as it does for older people, but they remain blissfully unaware of just how sore they should be.

This is why you just don’t bounce back the way you used to. Sorry.

I am not sure but i suspect it’s the same reason that hang overs only start to really exist later in your 20s…more bad news.

You are right about one thing though, their posture is getting worse.

Most parents that we see in practice went through school at a time when computers were something you had yo go to the computer labs for, and the internet was confined to one family computer that you only got to use when no one else wanted the phone line.

Sure, we sat a lot and watched TV, but long periods looking at laptops is relatively recent, and we NEVER got to look at a smart phone.

Think about your posture now, having had a childhood that only had you looking at desk tops and TV screens…can you imagine what you would look like now in your 30’s and 40’s if from a young age you didn’t just slouch, you put your head completely forward to look at a screen you hold at your chest of sat flat on your lap for hours a day?

The reality is, we don’t actually know for sure just how large an impact this terrible posture will have on our children by the time they are in their 40’s because the life they are living has literally never happened before!

So what can you do?

Thankfully, there is plenty.

Firstly, I want you to keep nagging them about their posture. You are right to be concerned. Remember that a forward head posture leads to headaches, neck and back pain, shoulder injuries, decreases shoulder range of motion and worst of all in most kid’s opinion, does NOT look cool as an adult. Help them be the only one of their friends who stands up properly in their 30s.

Secondly, encourage them to be proactive. Help them see that what they are doing week in and week out is a lot to ask of their body and they need to focus on how it is performing to stay at their peak.

Third, make sure they are wearing their back pack correctly and are aware of how heavy it is.

Finally, make sure they are in good shape to start the school year by getting their niggles from the school holidays checked before they jump straight back into it.

A large portion of our practice at Align are families with school aged children.

This is no accident. Both Martin and myself started seeing chiropractors when we were at school and Align has always been passionate about the health of whole families and so we strive to be accomodating to their needs.

I know I speak for the whole team when I say that we love it when a whole family comes to visit us, it is always a highlight of Martin or my day in practice.

We hope you have had a fantastic school holidays, looking forward to seeing you in the practice soon.

The 3 biggest mistakes with New Year's resolutions

If you, like most people, have tried year after year to make new year’s resolutions, only to find that before January ends, you’re out of the will power to keep them up and consign yourself to having “failed”, then this post is for you.

Resolutions can make a huge difference to your future, especially as most of us use them in an effort to improve our health!

The trick is to find ways to make them STICK and become part of your daily habits.

In the video below, Martin outlines some of the major mistakes that most people make in setting themselves new goals.

For those of you who prefer to read, the video has been transcribed below.

Hi there, Martin here from Align here from chiropractic and today's video is

really all about how to make good new year’s resolutions or more importantly in fact, how not to make bad New Year’s resolutions. 

You see, the data on this, the statistics, the research in this area is that 80% of people when they make a resolution, don't keep it for long enough to get a health benefit from it and the vast majority of New Year's resolutions are about improving our health, things like exercising more, eating better, meditating more or whatever it is. 

So there's a whole lot of social psychology research in this area and what I wanted to do today was first of all, make sure that you avoid the most common mistakes that people make when they're making a resolution, so that the year ahead can be a super healthy one for you. 

So what are the big mistakes?

Too big

The first one is people, when they're making a resolution, they make the size of their resolution too big, they're sick of being flabby and unfit, and then they decide they're going to exercise every day at a super high intensity when they've been spending the previous year on the couch. It's a recipe for disaster.

Too Many

The second thing that's kind of related to the first, is that they look at this blank slate of the year ahead and they try and change too many things at once. 

Now the problem with both of these things is not only that they don't work, but reason that they don't work is first of all they're too radical we really run our lives on habits. 

We kind of go through the same routines and when we're in that routine or habit, our behaviour kind of comes with zero need for willpower, but all of a sudden, we're going to be doing things differently, we're going to be eating different foods and putting ourselves through the discomfort and discipline of going to the gym. 

If we make too many of those things all at once, we tax our reserves of willpower super fast and a week later we are back to our old habits with no net benefit. 

Going Solo

The last big mistake that people make is that they go alone, they do they resolve to do something but without any social support, without having a buddy to help them through. 

You see we're social creatures and part of what is going to motivate us to get our the established patterns that we've got, is having somebody else that we're accountable to, somebody else that can support us when our willpower is feeling a little bit wobbly. 

So if you want to avoid the three big mistakes in making resolutions, we suggest you take this in into mind:

  • don’t go too big,

  • don’t have too many and 

  • make sure that you've got a buddy

We're going to have a follow-up video that it will show you exactly how to do those things.

9 tips for more comfortable travel

If you’re traveling and have back pain or you're concerned about making sure you're still comfortable once you actually REACH your destination, this post is aimed at you. 

For Kieran and Martin’s 9 tips to prevent back pain, neck pain and headaches when flying, skip to the bottom this post. 

For more back ground and some extra info about looking after yourself when you travel, please read on. 

With the school holidays upon us, a number of our clients are planning to get away with the family for what we hope will be a fun and relaxing time for them all. With that in mind, we wanted to share a few tips on traveling in comfort to maximise how great you get to feel no matter where the destination. 

Like I said...gloating. This was on my first day in Tokyo at Shibuya crossing, the busiest intersection in the world.

Like I said...gloating. This was on my first day in Tokyo at Shibuya crossing, the busiest intersection in the world.

Anyone who follows me on Instagram was made very aware in the last few weeks that I went away for a few days… and lets be honest, isn't gloating really all insta is about? 

My point is, if you looked at someone’s travel photos, you see beautiful views, drinking in glamorous locations and sometimes food (I don't really show food as I am too busy eating it) but there is a side to travel that you’ll never see on people’s insta profiles. 

You never see the multiple times that you have to lift and shift luggage, the waiting in lines, the lack of opportunity to exercise and of course, the dreaded aeroplane seats and accompanying lack of leg room with its *ALMOST* enough to be comfortable but not quite level of recline. 

I was contemplating this when I realised that even though it was only a quick trip and a relatively short flight, my girlfriend who has no injury and no major history of back pain and is quite fit and active, had me bring my activator along so that I could adjust her if need be while we were traveling. 

Originally I was jealous because I would have LOVED to have travelled with my own private chiropractor. 

Then I remembered that most of Align’s clients feel the same. 

I cant tell you how many times people in the practice who are about to fly have joked “can I just take you with me to have you on call for the whole trip?”

Yet no matter how many times I have said “yes, pay for my flights and Ill see you at the airport.” no one ever takes me up on it. 

What I mean by all this is, it doesn't matter if you're headed away for a holiday or work, long or short haul flying, everyone knows what it feels like on the other side of travel and wishes they could somehow avoid it. 

The fact is, even though we are keen, even though we might have a person willing to be your travel chiropractor, for most of us (my girlfriend excluded) it is just not practical to bring one, nor does it seem possible to avoid the physical pitfalls of travel. 

This even appears to be true for people I see who don't have to travel in the same class that I do, those fortunate enough to have seats that recline MUCH further and have access to vastly superior champagne. 

It appears that our bodies just aren't built to be inactive for extended periods then immediately lift weights from above head height and repeatedly walk, stand in line, sit again, lift and twist until FINALLY we are at our destination. Who’d have thought? 

Who are you to tell me how to fly?

For both Martin and myself, our interest in comfortable plane travel goes beyond seeing clients every week who are flying all over the world.

Me at Harajuku...not looking like a tourist at all. As you can see, NOT suffering a post flight migraine, the reason in flight health is so important. 

Me at Harajuku...not looking like a tourist at all. As you can see, NOT suffering a post flight migraine, the reason in flight health is so important. 

As a lot of you are probably already aware, Martin regularly runs seminars and workshops on chiropractic education here in Australia, but what you might NOT know, is that he is actually a highly sought after speaker internationally as well. In just the last few years Martin has spoken in the USA, Argentina, New Zealand, the UK, Ireland, Holland and Spain and what always amazes me is how short his turn around times will usually be. 

For instance, for his most recent speaking engagement in Scotland, Martin left the practice slightly early on a Thursday evening, flew to Edinburgh for a seminar and was back in Melbourne again Tuesday evening to start practice at 7am Wednesday morning. As someone 18 years his junior (I had to fit that in somewhere) it always astounds me how much energy he still has on the other side of those trips! 

For my part, I began taking more than just a professional interest in healthier travel when as I got into my later 20’s, international flights started to trigger migraines. 

Think of how fun you find airports and customs, and now imagine doing it with burred vision, an inability to deal with noise and a headache seemingly splitting your head in two from the back of your neck to just behind your eye. 

Obviously, I was keen to avoid repeating this fate and so, in recent years have adjusted (pardon the pun) my travel habits to accommodate. 

Well get on with it Kieran, what am I meant to do?? 

Kieran and Martin present:

9 tips to prevent back pain, neck pain and headaches when flying

1. Seating position

For tips about ideal degrees of seat back position, read my post on sitting here.

Don’t forget, that tiny pillow we are given on a plane that seems useless is a great substitute for short term lumbar support or to go under your legs if the seat cushion is pressing in behind your knees.

Another rule of seating position is to mix it up! Your back hates being still for too long and your circulation NEEDS us to change position. You wouldn’t fly to London without moving your ankles toes and feet to avoid DVT and you should think of your low back the same way. 

There are at least 4 seating positions available to you no matter what class you travel in, upright, reclined, upright with lumbar support, reclined with lumbar support. Keep changing between these 4 options to allow your low back the chance for at least SOME movement. 

2. Neck Pillows

No one can actively hold their head up while properly being asleep, as is characterised by the nodding and catching movement we do continually when sitting on planes. 

I have a number of clients who return from flights (many people literally call us to come in on their way home from the airport!) with symptoms that are like mild whiplash. Tight neck muscles, headaches, pins and needles in their arms and restricted neck range of motion are just a few of the symptoms we regularly see after flying and a lot of these could have been avoided if they had been able to properly relax their necks while attempting to sit upright. 

Believe me, I know how lame neck pillows look but there better/less daggy options out there and for me, a neck pillow has changed my life for when I arrive and the quality of my sleep. 

If you are limited for space or forget one, a towel from your carry on or the blanket the airline gives you can be used in a pinch. 

3. Hydration

Staying hydrated tends to be hard everyday in real life, and can seem especially hard when you have to ask someone else for water all the time, but for avoiding headaches, migraines, quality of sleep and relaxing your muscles it is essential. 

The air in the plane tends to dry us out so you should always try to keep your water intake up. Some people travel with a small amount of high quality salt to put a sprinkle in their water to try retain fluid so that drinking doesn't mean too many trips to the bathroom but be careful not to go too far with that. 

The most boring suggestion I have is to limit/don’t drink alcohol while flying. Alcohol inhibits the realise of Anti Diuretic Hormone (or ADH) from our brain, making us need to use the toilet more frequently leading to further dehydration, its one of the main reasons we get hangovers! For further proof of this phenomenon see: “You on a Sunday morning prior to having children”.

4. Sleep

Get as much as you can at the right time. Obviously we need to acclimatise our body to wherever we are traveling to, so if this is in a vastly different time zone, try to sleep like you are already. there.

Neck pillows (as discussed above), eye masks and good quality ear plugs are essential.

The rise in affordable noise cancelling ear plugs has been a God send, but Martin and myself recommend ‘in ear’ earplugs/headphones as larger over the ear ones can make it harder to get your head in a good position for sleeping. 

5. Don't just sit there

Get up and move an annoying amount. Do not care what other people in the cabin think about you getting up and moving about the cabin. 

Obviously this is recommended for avoiding DVT but has the added benefit of stretching and moving the soft tissues of your body. 

My personal tip is to try do some discrete glut activation while you are up. Your gluten are you main pelvic stabilisers and your Glut Max is your largest muscle as its meant to be used for all your lifting, you need it to get your bag down from the overhead lockers and taking luggage off the carousel. 

Remember, you aren't trying to be good at flying, you're actually wanting to enjoy yourself at the other end! 

6. Travel light

The lighter your bags and the less bulky and awkward they are to move around, the easier it will be on your body, no matter how strong you think you are.

7. Prepare early so that you're rested

I cannot tell you how many times I have had to adjust people who have injured themselves PRIOR to leaving for a holiday because getting ready to leave has meant a lot of extra stress in and of itself!

Wry necks, disk issues and headaches are just a few of the issues we see that can be exacerbated or even caused by stress, so do everything you can to be ready early for wheels up - including at work. How often do you stress out about having to get things ready at work so that you can get away? Start looking after yourself in the weeks leading up to your departure and from day one you'll actually feel like you're on holiday. 

8. Meditation

Let’s face it, travel can be stressful. Delays, anxiety about making a connecting flight and of course, your fellow passengers can be an ordeal. 

It can pay to have a good meditation app or relaxing music (as I have said in a previous post I am an Enya man, but there are a few types of music more relaxing than others. For more tips on distressing that post can be found here) can make you more chilled while you fly, leading to a better rested version of you once you get out of the plane on the other end. 

9. Have a brilliant time

You deserve to enjoy your holiday. If you have been putting these tips into practice, you'll be maximising your chances of having the trip you have planned, not one marred by injury. 

Don’t worry! If you find yourself in a spot of bother while you are away, shoot us an email, you'd be surprised just how many places we will be able to fond someone great to get you back on track while you are away. 

If you have any questions about these tips or any suggestions of things I have missed, please feel free to contact us at Align. 

Have a safe and healthy school holiday!

 

 

 

6 tips for better sleep - Waking up to being asleep (Part 2)

This article is about why sleep is important, what happens to us if we don't get enough sleep and 6 tips to improve your sleep. 

If you are just after the 6 tips, skip to near the end of the post. 

If you haven't read part 1 of this post, please read it here.

This is a continuation of my discussion of an interview on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast with British neuroscientist Matthew Walker. 

(To listen to the podcast, click here)

Man with some serious sleep issues...namely, he is not even trying to lie down...I'm not even sure what his plan is. 

Man with some serious sleep issues...namely, he is not even trying to lie down...I'm not even sure what his plan is. 

In the first post I focused mainly on how and why the information about the importance of sleep really spoke to me as an element of my life that I needed to address, but in this post I wanted to outline other elements of the interview, specifically, I wanted to talk more about the actual health issues associated with skipping a few hours of sleep. 

What do you mean when you talk about ‘sleep’?

In the interview, Matthew Walker classifies sleep as being between 7-9 hours of good quality sleep that contains appropriate time spent in each of 4 stages of sleep. 

Although all 4 stages of sleep are essential to the quality of your sleep, I wont get into the nitty gritty of how sleep works specifically here, because thats really a few massive posts all on their own, and like you, we only really have time to just hit the high notes here, so yes, I am GROSSLY oversimplifying the whole system here, but here is a general run down. 

Stages 1 and 2 are your “set up” stages of sleep, they are the period where your body begins to turn off your monitoring systems and relax, changing your heart rate and breathing to eventually get into deeper levels. This is also the stage where you can have a power nap as long as you don't doze for more than 20 minutes.

Stages 3 and 4 are where you get down into deeper levels of sleep. In Stage 3, your brain waves become very long and slow and become much less responsive and harder to wake up, while your brain “paralyzes” your body in a type of muscular incarceration so that during stage 4, otherwise known as REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, you don't get up and start acting out your dreams…it sounds scary at first but its a handy survival mechanism. You have probably experienced this lock down first hand if you have ever suddenly felt awake at night time but been unable to move your body.  

Stages 3 and 4 are where most body replenishment occurs. This type of sleep is excellent for cardiovascular health, metabolism, and most importantly, removal of waste products that accumulate in your brain throughout the day. 

OK, get on with it - what health issues does it cause? 

Short answer? Heaps. Almost everything in fact. According to Matthew, the shorter you sleep, the shorter your life. Fewer hours of sleep predicts all cause mortality. Put simply, you’ll be dead sooner and the quality of your life will be worse.

Kieran, I want more detail than that…

Fair enough.

In the podcast, Matthew talks about the research he has done for his book “Why we sleep” and summarises a few of the more…well lets face it, scary side effects of a lack of sleep. 

Some of the issues are more functional than others.

As mentioned in the previous blog, fewer than 6 hours of sleep leads to a decrease of physical endurance and function of 30% due to lactic acid build up as well as the bodies ability to expire our breath, but anything below 7 hours has been shown to impair us, with decreases in our peak muscle strength, peak running speed and our vertical jump. 

Coupled with this fact is that according to Matthew, it has been shown that sleep and frequency of injury has a linear relationship, stating that 9 hours of sleep Vs 5 hours of sleep leads to a 60% increase in the probability of injury.

Another more functional element to sleep is that it has been shown to improve learning performance (in rats at least) by 20-30% as it is thought to be the time when our brain strengthens its connections when learning something new. 

Have you ever been trying to learn something new or studying and come to a point where you are just stuck so you give up for the night? 

If your anything like me, I know that you found that the next morning it just clicked. You were able to get through the whole song you were learning, the language came to you, or you could remember the whole quote correctly. 

It appears that the brain literally prunes away the unnecessary elements of the pathways and streamlines your new skill. 

This next one really spoke to me also, as someone who has always carried more weight than is strictly necessary, and frequently had a yo-yoing relationship with weight gain and loss, I was surprised to learn that sleep doesn't just help you lose weight, it actually helps you keep it away! 

Lack of sleep decreases the body’s levels of a hormone called Leptin, who causes the sensation of satiation (aka - feeling full). At the same time, the hormone Gremlin (the guy responsible for NOT feeling full, and making you hungry), is ramped up. 

It has been shown that people who sleep between 5-6 hours a night will eat 200-300 MORE calories a day, equalling roughly 70,000 calories a year, leading to 10-15 pounds (or 4.5-6.8kgs) of obese mass a year. 

Worse, you eat more of the WRONG THINGS, going for heavy hitting carbs and heavy processed food, while simultaneously staying away from leafy greens etc. 

Matthew claims that if the rise in obesity in last 70 years, is plotted on same graph as amount of sleep in society on average, the lines go in equal opposite directions.

So just to clarify…on average, if you slept more than 7 hours a night, you would eat fewer calories, crave better quality food and with no extra effort or will power necissary, you would have to manage up to 7kgs of fat FEWER, each year. 

Do you know any other “magic” weight loss solution that can offer all that with zero negative side effects and at zero cost?

And now, as promised…the scary stuff.

Insufficient sleep according to the podcast, degrades our DNA, specifically it has a negative effect on immune response genes, decreasing their reproduction. At the same time, we get increased chronic inflammation, increased stress response leading to cardiovascular disease and an increase in the expression of genes related to the promotion of tumour growth.

I shouldn't really need to go on about those points but I will. 

Matthew claims that this is most exemplified by people who do shift work. Night shift workers suffer from higher rates of obesity, diabetes and cancers, most notably bowel, prostate and breast cancer. 

This is apparently so prevalent he states, that the World Health Organisation now classifies night shift work as possible carcinogen in and of itself as 4 hours of sleep even for just one night, causes a remarkable state of immune deficiency, a significant drop in anti cancer cells in our immune system.

But wait, there’s more!

Sleep deprivation affects your sex hormones too, in fact, Men who sleep 5-6 hours a night will have testosterone levels 10 years their senior, a critical element of health, strength, muscular performance etc, in short, it ages you a DECADE.

Consider how you are when you're deprived of sleep; reduced alertness, impulsive, lack of ability to concentrate, difficulties with learning and memory.

Why could this be? What do you think happens to your brain when you are like this for weeks, months or even YEARS on end? 

While we are awake our brain builds up toxicity, especially a protein called ‘Beta Amyloid’. You may have hear of this protein before as it is the main mechanism in the  development of Alzheimer’s Disease. When we sleep properly, the process of sleep wipes our brain, reducing build up of Beta Amyloid.

Insufficient sleep across lifespan now appears to be one of THE most significant lifestyle factors in determining whether or not you will develop Alzheimer’s disease.

Simply put: wakefulness causes low level brain damage and sleep offers reparatory function.

Matthew offered two real life examples that are suggestive of these findings too. Love them or hate them, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan have arguably had a huge effect on our world today. They were both known as having strong wills with sharp minds. They were both also famous for getting around 4-5 hours of sleep a night. They both died with Alzheimer’s. 

This anecdotal evidence is hardly proof of the research but it raises a few questions about the concept, two people with very active minds and social lives (two factors previously thought to be predictive of the disease) got it anyway.

But Kieran, I’m one of those people who doesn’t need that much sleep…so I’m all good right? 

Wrong. 

Well…at least its a safe bet that you're wrong anyway. 

If you had read Part 1 of this post (seriously, why are you this far in if you haven’t?) you’ll remember that Matthew’s research has shown that people are completely incapable of determining how much they are affected by sleep deprivation. 

I was was of you, I was convinced of my own ability to get things done when I was working off lower levels of sleep, but it turns out, like you, I am completely unqualified to make that assessment. 

Negative effects of your lack of sleep can ONLY be assessed by external sources and measurements. 

“I’ve heard some people just don't need that much though. I bet I’m one of them.” 

Again, you're only partially correct. 

Although studies show us that there is a population of humans that can function as normal from just 5 hours of sleep, but those same genetic studies show that is a group of less than 1% of the population. 

In fact, you're MORE likely to be struck by lightening in your life time than to be one of those people, so you should probably assume that you aren't one of them. 

So…what can I do then? 

Get to sleep. Seriously, its as simple and as difficult as that. 

The minimum you should aim for is 7 hours! 7-9 hours appears to be our sweet spot as humans. 

6 ways to improve sleep:

  1. Regularity; go to bed at same time.
  2. Decrease light; Try away from screens for at least an hour before bed or at LEAST have your screens on night mode. 
  3. Halve the number of lights on in your home in an evening. Apparently, if you are in an environment with no lights at all, we fall asleep 2 hours earlier. 
  4. Keep it cool, brain decreases temp by 2-3 deg fahrenheit to initiate sleep. always easier to sleep in a room thats too cold rather than too hot. We fall asleep faster and deeper in cold. 
  5. Wear fewer clothes to bed. Again, its a heat thing.  
  6. Try to have warm feet and hands. It helps keep your brain cool as it stakes blood away from your core. You could also try having a hot bath or shower before bed, it brings blood to the surface then your core body temp plummets when you get out of the water and you're more ready to sleep. The reverse is true for waking up, studies have shown that its the rise in temperature in the morning not just the light that wakes you.

This is not an exhaustive list of things you can do to try improve your chances of going to sleep but I like them because they are the classic set you always read. If you have any other tips about sleep we’d love to hear them.

If you have any questions about how your body is working, sleep related or not, always feel free to contact us at Align to discuss your health issues. Its literally what we are here for. 

I am going to leave you with a few more things to think about. 

Sedation is NOT the same as normal sleep, pills and alcohol might help you nod off but they do not allow you to go through the full normal stages of sleep and so you will miss out on a lot of it’s benefits. Be sure to discuss your inability to sleep with a health practitioner about improving your sleep hygiene as Matthew Walker states in the podcast that sedatives are an absolute last resort.

Sleep is NOT like a bank, you cant accumulate debt during the week and then make it up on the weekend. As humans we've never developed the ability to create a safety net to overcome a lack of sleep as we are the ONLY species that deliberately deprive themselves of sleep for no apparent reason.

Remember too that every day in Australia there are car accidents that are linked to sleeplessness. Drowsy driving is apparently worse statistically than drinking or drugs. In fact according the Matthew Walker, being awake for more than 20 hours makes your brain act like it is over the legal blood alcohol limit for drink driving. 

Lastly NO ONE tells you to stay awake on a problem. “Sleep on it” so that you can have a fresh perspective is a suggestion with no cultural boundaries. 

Accumulated wisdom for centuries has promoted sleep as a way of better tackling your problems, getting things done and improving your life…do we really think that is no longer true just because television is so much better now?  

Ankle Sprains...are you doing it wrong?

I don't know if its the time of year or if I have just been noticing it more, but it feels like there has been a lot of ankle injury limping into the practice in the last few weeks.  

Ankle sprains and strains are common, they are not just for sports people and most importantly, are usually really poorly managed when they happen. 

Sure, getting people out of pain doesn't usually take too long but there is a lot more to it than that. 

As a lot of you already know, at Align a big part of our practice is looking after families. There are a few things you notice when you have families with school aged kids coming in and one of the more common injuries we will see is ankle sprain or strain.

So what do I mean by poorly managed? The problem is, getting on top of these very common injuries is at the same time, very important but very BORING to deal with. 

If you are lucky enough to have avoided issues with your ankles, I am willing to bet we all know SOMEONE we went to school with who rolled their ankle early on in high school, and by year 12, nearly overtime they took to the field, court or even walked next to you down the street, they would put their foot down at one point and over they would go!

In practice, we often here this described as their "bad ankle".

Structurally there is usually nothing "bad" about their ankle, so why do they have such a problem? 

A "Bad Ankle"

A "Bad Ankle"

In my experience, up until recently, treatment for most ankle injury would consist of people would ice on their ankle till the swelling went down and they could walk on it without pain, then they would hope for the best until inevitably, the next episode of the "bad ankle" would happen, increasing in frequency, leaving them with no confidence in their own body and an inability to enjoy playing sports or exercise how they should be able to. Sound familiar?

The reality is, when you really sprain your ankle, what you are actually doing is causing damage of specific ligaments around your foot and ankle. The pain from these injuries is just one part of the issue. The other, equally important part is the movement issues that a sprain will introduce into our ankle's support systems. 

I touched on these movement issues in my last blog about posture but in a nutshell, when we injure tissues it can cause movement control issues in the affected joint, making it harder for our nervous system to be certain of how to position and manage that joint in the future. 

This is why it's so important that any management of these injuries includes longer term rehab thinking, as well as care for the immediate area and work on the connected support structures. 

In my next blog, I plan to outline some important points you want to be thinking about if you have an acute ankle sprain, as well as what you can do if you already ARE someone with a "bad ankle"

 

 

 

 

Are you Sitting too much?

Maybe you've heard the new catch phrase, "Sitting is the new smoking"? 
Have you wondered why that is?  Are you curious as to how prolonged periods of sitting is causing you harm?  How sitting decreases brain activity, can cause back pain, shoulder pain and neck pain? How sitting can decrease fat metabolism, contribute to metabolic diseases, heart disease, depression and even some cancers?
For a simple explanation, watch this 5min Ted Ed talk (perhaps do it standing!) and learn what impact sitting is having on your posture and health.
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If you're curious, you can even take this survey and calculate just how much sitting you are doing each day, the results may shock you!
Here's a few strategies you may use to get off your butt;
1. If you work in an office at a desk, perhaps get into the habit of taking phone calls standing up
2. Set an alarm for every 30mins to get up out of your chair and do a few stretches
3. If you commute to work via Public Transport, you could choose to stand instead of sit
4. There are great options for standing work stations - check this one out
5. Walk to work, or at least park further away from the office.  This serves two purposes, increases your exercise for the day AND reduces sitting time in the car
6. If you're into computer games, try playing them standing up, instead of sitting!  It may surprise you to know that standing actually increases brain activity and reactivity.  So standing may help you get to that next level.